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Whether you are pregnant, planning to have a baby or simply need a regular checkup, you may be looking for an Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OB-GYN). But finding one you trust might be a real headache when you are new in Asia. In this new episode of Abroad With Care, Andrea welcomes Dr. Michelle Tsui, Obstetrician-Gynecologist based in Hong Kong, to help you navigate the OB-GYN system.

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Firstly, could you explain what an Obstetrician-Gynecologist is? 

There are two parts to the specialty. The Obstetrics part involves the ante-natal care, the delivery of the baby and the postnatal checks. The Gynecology part involves taking care of all the womanly issues. This includes checkup, pap smear, ultrasound scan for uterus and surgery if needed. 

How would you know that you need to see an OB-GYN? 

There are many situations. Sometimes, even if you do not have any specific pathology, you may want to see one. For example, you want to see them for regular checkups, pre-conception checks and counseling, or fertility issues. 

When moving to a new country, it may be challenging to find an OB-GYN. Where should you start?

There are two good sources that are usually quite reliable. First, you may be willing to ask your general practitioner, especially if you have a good relationship with them. If you like him or her, you are more likely to like the OB-GYN that is referred to you by him or her.
A second source is your friends. You can ask people who are quite similar to you in terms of the situation they are in or the kind of services they would prefer. They would be a good guide for you. 

In the first episodes of Abroad With Care, we have discussed the specificities between private and public sectors. What are the key differences between seeing an OB-GYN in the private sector or in the public sector?

In the public sector, you will only see a gynecologist if you are diagnosed with a problem. You cannot see one if you want a checkup. You will only see an obstetrician once or twice during the pregnancy. At other times, you may be taken care of by a midwife. Every time, you will see a different doctor because you don’t get to choose. 
In the private sector, you get a better continuity of care. The doctor you see in your private clinic will also be the one who delivers your baby. 

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When it comes to choosing my OB-GYN, what elements should I pay attention to? 

With gynecology, it is not a major issue. You can always seek a second opinion. It is important that you have this option open to yourself.
With obstetrics, you may want to discuss your major concerns and aspirations for your delivery early on, in the first appointment. For instance, some doctors do not do natural births. You want to voice out your concerns at the beginning to make sure you are on the same page. 

What about hospitals? 

You have to choose between private and public hospitals. One of the main differences is that, in public hospitals, you may not always get your epidural on request. It is subject to availability and priority. 
Even in private hospitals, there are different styles. Some hospitals are more Hong-Kong style which means that the rules are quite strict. The father may not be able to participate a lot in the delivery and may not be allowed to touch the baby. 
It is always a good idea to ask for a visit before committing to a certain hospital. Many obstetricians do go to different private hospitals, so you can choose.

As an expat coming from Europe or America, what differences should I be aware of when looking for my OB-GYN? 

First, you may want to know the OB-GYN if they are pro natural birth. You can ask about their natural birth rate. In Asia, many women request for a c-section. Some doctors want only to do c-sections. You need to make sure you are going with the doctor in line wit the birth plan you want to have. 
Then, you need to check hospitals. Some hospitals would give you less liberty for your participation in baby care or less skin-to-skin time. Some hospitals would not allow the baby to room in with the mother, unless you are in a private room. These elements are usually very important in Western culture. There is no right or wrong but you really have to find out about these rules. Otherwise, you may be quite shocked! 

At APRIL International Care, we are specialist in designing and delivering flexible international health insurance for individuals, families and companies in Asia. For more information, explore our MyHEALTH plans for expats in Asia. 

You can contact our different offices around Asia and request a quote, our experts will be happy to assist you!

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